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Widower's concern over state of Lakenham churchyard

PUBLISHED: 18:00 15 May 2010 | UPDATED: 16:31 01 July 2010

Reginald Rushmer, 85, who is struggling to tend to his late wife's grave

Reginald Rushmer, 85, who is struggling to tend to his late wife's grave

David Bale

An 85-year-old Second World War veteran from Norwich claims he is struggling to get to his wife's grave because the cemetery is a "shambles".

Reginald Rushmer, who needs two walking sticks to get about, fortnightly visits his wife Edith's grave in the churchyard of Lakenham's St John the Baptist & All Saints.

David Bale

An 85-year-old Second World War veteran from Norwich claims he is struggling to get to his wife's grave because the cemetery is a “shambles”.

Reginald Rushmer, who needs two walking sticks to get about, fortnightly visits his wife Edith's grave in the churchyard of Lakenham's St John the Baptist & All Saints.

But he said his route to the cemetery from the Harwood Road entrance has become more hazardous because of hedge trimmings left on the site.

Norwich City Council runs the site as a closed churchyard, which means it has been closed for burials, and a spokeswoman said it could clear a pathway for Mr Rushmer to get to his wife's grave, but admitted that access was not the easiest.

Mr Rushmer said: “I can walk up the steep steps with help from my daughter, Caroline Smith.

“But you cannot recognise it as a cemetery apart from one or two nice graves that are still being looked after.

“Other cemeteries across the city are immaculate but this one is a shambles.

“The hedges were cut down and the trimmings were dumped at the cemetery.

“I know the council said it could clear a path to the grave, but I don't know how they could do this, as there are four graves on the plot of land. I just want someone to sort it out and clean it up.”

Mr Rushmer served two years in the Royal Navy during the war and was based on a minesweeper in the Adriatic Sea. When he returned to civilian life he worked in the shoe trade as a factory worker.

A spokeswoman for Norwich City Council said the authority maintained grass, shrubs and hedges in closed churchyards in the city to make sure footpaths were kept clear, and beds tidy.

She added: “In some areas of these churchyards, we designate wildlife areas that are left to grow naturally, to encourage biodiversity. If anyone would like a path cut in this situation so that they can tend to the grave of a loved one, we will certainly do that.

“As with many churches and churchyards of this age, sometimes access is not the easiest, especially in places like this where a steep hill is involved. We will maintain pathways and steps so they are safe, but the landscape and layout of some areas does mean they are more difficult for people to walk in.

“Where this is the case we will do our best to offer people alternatives. For example, you can access this churchyard from another entrance that does not involve any steep steps.”

Are you unhappy with the state of a public site in the city? Ring reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2@archant.co.uk.

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